Education is a Human Right – That is, Unless you are Pregnant in Sierra Leone.

Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

By Abby Saleh, Press intern, AIUSA

Thousands of pregnant girls are being excluded from school because of a rule issued by Sierra Leone’s government. In April of 2015, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology issued a statement banning all pregnant girls from school settings. This immediately went into action, and thousands of girls were denied access to education and were barred from taking exams. The government justified the policy as the protection of “innocent girls” from negative influences, which stigmatizes pregnant girls. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Six Trump Proposals That Must Never Become Policy

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign stop at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa © Matt A.J.

 By Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA

In the very early hours of November 9, we voiced our grave concern about statements that President-elect Donald Trump made over the course of the election and his promises to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., build a wall on our country’s southern border, restrict access to healthcare and return to the practice of torture.

Already in the U.S. there have been reports of a spike in hate-driven actions and threats. This is not a coincidence – it is further proof that Trump’s irresponsible proposals must never become U.S. policy. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

5 Reasons Women Need More Seats at the Peace Table

Paris, FRANCE: (FILES) This file picture taken 14 December 2005 at the Elysee Palace in Paris shows (1st Row L to R) Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic (C) and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman signing the Dayton peace accord on Bosnia, as (2d row L to R) Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, US President Bill Clinton and French President Jacques Chirac look on. 14 December 2005 will mark the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Dayton peace agreement which ended more than three years of bloody inter-ethnic war and divided the country into a shaky system of separate but equal entities. AFP PHOTO/FILES/MICHEL GAGNE (Photo credit should read MICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

Paris, FRANCE: (FILES) This file picture taken 14 December 2005 at the Elysee Palace in Paris (MICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

By Christina V. Harris, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

“When will we learn that no peace can be sustainable and just without the active and meaningful participation of women?” said Gorana Mlinarević, Nela Porobić Isaković and Madeleine Rees, commenting on the lingering ethnic tensions and gender inequality in Bosnia and Herzegovina 20 years after the Dayton Peace Agreement was made. The Dayton agreement, which was formally mediated, negotiated, witnessed, and signed exclusively by men, is today thought by many to have been a failure.

The agreement came about at a time when just 11 percent of peace agreements included even a reference to women, and five years before the passing of the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325—the first UN resolution to acknowledge war’s unique, and too often unrecognized, impact on women and girls. Of immense significance, it was also the first resolution to urge UN Member States to increase the participation of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts—an official move away from the days of Dayton where only male leaders of warring parties were seen as acceptable contributors to peacemaking. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The UN Sustainable Development Goals: Let’s Step it Up For Gender Equality!

UNPhoto/Sylvain Lietchti

UNPhoto/Sylvain Lietchti

By Nicole Van Huyssteen, Women’s Human Rights Co-group

Sixteen years ago, 189 world leaders gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the Millennium Declaration, which set out a series of eight time-bound targets with an overall goal of reducing extreme poverty in its many dimensions by the year 2015. These targets — which became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — formed a blueprint which committed all nations and leading development institutions to a new global partnership to galvanize unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

On International Day of the Girl, Stand in Solidarity with Yazidi Women and Girls!

A girl in Khakhe camp who was a victim of Islamic State abuse. This anonymous woman A girl was a victim of abuse by the armed group calling itself Islamic State. Hundreds of Yezidi women and girls have had their lives shattered by the horrors of sexual violence and sexual slavery in IS captivity,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor, who spoke to more than 40 former captives in northern Iraq. “Many of those held as sexual slaves are children – girls aged 14, 15 or even younger. IS fighters are using rape as a weapon in attacks amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity.” The women and girls are among thousands of Yezidis from the Sinjar region in north-west Iraq who have been targeted since August in a wave of ethnic cleansing by IS fighters bent on wiping out ethnic and religious minorities in the area. The horrors endured in IS captivity have left these women and girls so severely traumatized that some have been driven to end their own lives. Nineteen-year-old Jilan committed suicide while being held captive in Mosul because she feared she would be raped, her brother told Amnesty International.

A girl in Khakhe camp who was a victim of Islamic State abuse.

By Alice Dahle, AIUSA’s Women’s Human Rights Co-chair

In early August 2014, extremist fighters, who were attempting to create a new Islamic caliphate, the so-called Islamic State (IS), attacked towns and villages in the Mt. Sinjar region of northern Iraq. These combatants are known by various names, including ISIS, ISIL and Da’esh. Their plan began with an ethnic cleansing of the non-Muslim population in the area, with a particular focus on the Yazidi (also spelled as Yezidi) people who had lived there for thousands of years. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why we’re still fighting on September 28th—the Global Day of Action to Decriminalize Abortion

 

By Kaitlyn Denzler, Women’s Rights Campaigner

Over two and a half years ago, Amnesty International launched the My Body, My Rights (MBMR) Campaign, a global effort to end the control and criminalization of sexuality and reproduction, and to help everyone know and claim their sexual and reproductive rights. Three years on, our work on sexual and reproductive rights remains as important as ever.  Here’s why we’re still fighting: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

International Justice Must Include Women

Violence devastates the lives of millions of women and girls worldwide every year (Photo Credit: Mahmud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Mahmud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images)

By Nicole van Huyssteen and Magdalena Medley, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialists 

Ask yourself a question: When you think about war, what is the first image that comes to mind? Do you consider how it affects women?

Women and girls are usually forgotten when thinking about armed conflict, yet they are uniquely and disproportionately affected by it. They represent a high number of casualties of war* and many are victims of rape and sexual violence, which are often used as strategic tools of war to terrorize women and their communities. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

5 Things I Learned at Argentina’s #NiUnaMenos March against Femicide

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Credit: Trak Producciones

by Magdalena Medley, Thematic Specialist – Women’s Human Rights Co-Group at Amnesty International USA

On June 3, 2016, Argentinians took to the streets for a second time to tell their government “ni una menos” – meaning “not even one less (woman)” – demanding an end to femicide and increasing levels of violence against women in the country.

In 2015, when the first Ni Una Menos demonstration took place in my homeland of Argentina, I covered it from New York City. I wanted to be a part of this important time in my country’s history, even if only from overseas. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

It’s time to make basic protections for women refugees a priority!

© UNHCR/A.McConnell

© UNHCR/A.McConnell

By Nicole van Huyssteen, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist 

Can you imagine not eating or drinking to avoid being watched by men as you shower or use the bathroom? Or being too frightened to sleep because of unwanted advances from single men sleeping in the same crowded spaces at night? These are some of the daily realities faced by many refugee women as they travel alone or with young children in tow as they try to reach places of safety for themselves and their families. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

President Obama, Stand with Women and Girls Raped in Conflict

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

Globally, up to one out of every three women will experience physical and/or sexual violence in her lifetime. Gender-based violence (GBV)—which includes sexual violence—is an issue worldwide, and during armed conflicts or humanitarian crises the risks to women and girls are often heightened. Although survivors of sexual violence are not exclusively female, rape and other types of sexual violence predominantly affect women and girls. Rape is frequently used as a form of torture and as a weapon of war, and often results in unwanted pregnancy. Despite this commonly cited fact, women who become pregnant as a result of rape are often unable to access the care that they need because of U.S. legislative barriers to safe abortion, namely the Helms Amendment. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST